NDP leader Jagmeet Singh gestures during a news conference Tuesday June 9, 2020 in Ottawa. Singh says it is irresponsible and wrong-headed for the Liberal government to draft a bill that would fine or imprison people who made fraudulent claims under the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh gestures during a news conference Tuesday June 9, 2020 in Ottawa. Singh says it is irresponsible and wrong-headed for the Liberal government to draft a bill that would fine or imprison people who made fraudulent claims under the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Singh says NDP won’t support Liberal bill that would jail, fine CERB fraudsters

Singh says new criminal penalties will hit poor and racialized people harder

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says it is irresponsible and wrong-headed for the Liberal government to draft a bill that would fine or imprison people who made fraudulent claims under the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

Singh says a bill the Liberals are proposing would hurt the very people that the CERB was designed to help — vulnerable people who have faced financial hardship because of COVID-19.

He also says it was hypocritical for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take a knee on Parliament Hill during Friday’s nationwide anti-racism demonstrations while such a bill was being drafted.

He says the NDP was given a copy of the draft bill on the weekend by the Liberals, ahead of a sitting of the House of Commons tomorrow, and his party can’t support it as is.

Singh says new criminal penalties will hit poor and racialized people harder, and that the tax system should be used to recover funds that should not have been paid, rather than fining or jailing people during a pandemic.

Singh says all parties previously agreed that people should not be unduly penalized if they applied for benefits in good faith.

“They’re effectively opening up the floodgates to retroactively charging people just for applying … That is the opposite of what we should be doing during a pandemic,” he said Tuesday.

“I am outraged at the Liberal government that Prime Minister Trudeau can take a knee on one day while at the same time the Liberal government is drafting a bill that’s going to penalize potentially people who applied in good faith but maybe didn’t meet a certain criteria. That is wrong.”

Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre wouldn’t comment on the legislation that has yet to be tabled in the House of Commons, or on whether the Tories support extending the CERB.

He said federal program should focus on encouraging people to get back to work.

“There’s no way you can replace the workforce with a government program,” Poilievre said, in an appearance with the Conservative Treasury Board critic Tim Uppal.

“That’s why the economy needs to open up and people need to have the opportunity to go back to their jobs, to earn a paycheque.”

The most recent federal figures show 8.41 million people have applied for the CERB, with $43.51 billion in payments as of June 4.

The figures surpassed anything the government originally expected, which is why the Finance Department recently updated its spending projections to put a $60-billion price tag on the measure, up from $35 billion.

At the same time, the government is revising downward how much it will spend on a wage subsidy program to $45 billion from $73 billion.

All the spending, and changes in plans, require a thorough review by the federal auditor general, Poilievre said. The Tories are calling on the government to increase the auditor general’s budget by about $10.8 million.

The watchdog has said that’s roughly what it needs to review COVID-19 and infrastructure spending without having other work fall by the wayside.

READ MORE: Payments for CERB top $40 billion as feds open doors for commercial rent help

READ MORE: Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, feds clarify changes

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CanadaCoronavirusJagmeet SinghJustin Trudeau

Just Posted

An Island Health graph showing COVID-19 cases in the central Island by local health area between Dec. 27 and Jan. 23. (Island Health image)
Central Island’s COVID-19 case spike shifting, says Island Health

Cowichan Valley has seen the highest number of cases, but Nanaimo and south Island seeing upticks

(Twitter/Ateachersaurus)
The Pachena Bay shoreline in 2013. (Twitter/Ateachersaurus)
This week in history: 9.0 magnitude quake struck under what is now called Vancouver Island

According to First Nations elders, the 9.0-magnitude quake in 1700 CE kick-started a tsunami

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
UPDATE: No sign of small plane that went down in Juan de Fuca Strait

Searchers out on both sides of border between Victoria and Port Angeles

Keygan Power, pictured at B.C. Children's Hospital,  plays chess five to seven times a day during his recovery care. Keygan suffered a life-threatening brain hemorrhage on Aug. 2.
(Photo Allison Power)
Vancouver Island teen ‘locked inside,’ battling to regain speech after severe brain bleed

16-year-old suffers traumatic loss of function, still plays a mean game of chess

Snow is sticking to the ground on Malahat Drive at Shawnigan Lake Road. (Drive BC)
Snowfall warning issued for Malahat

10 centimetres of snow expected between Goldstream and Mill Bay

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

Victoria police are seeking a young woman suspected of spitting on a bus driver in October 2020. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Young woman sought after ‘spitting assault’ on Victoria bus driver

Suspect became irate after bus came to a sudden stop

Tahsis has raised concerns about the condition of Head Bay Road with the provincial ministry of transportation. (Photo courtesy Martin Davis)
It’s 2021 and Tahsis still has to fight for good roads

Overuse by logging trucks, blind corners and potholes are still a reality for remote community

Worker at Swartz Bay terminal on Monday, January 20, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Former BC Ferries employee alleges he was fired because of his race

Imraan Goondiwala has been granted a BC Human Rights Tribunal hearing

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at B.C. legislature on the province’s mass vaccination plan for COVID-19, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 quarantine not an option for B.C., John Horgan says

Apres-ski parties increase risk, not interprovincial travel

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker have been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
B.C. couple who travelled to Yukon for COVID vaccine ineligible for 2nd dose until summer

The province is ensuring those eligible to receive the vaccine get the second shot within 42 days

(File)
Mask dispute in court leaves Vancouver cop with broken leg

Man allegedly refused to put on a mask and resisted arrest

(Kraft Dinner/Twitter)
Kraft Dinner launches candy-flavoured mac and cheese just in time for Valentine’s Day

Sweet and cheesy treat will be here just in time for the cheesiest holiday of the year

Most Read